Oregon State’s Rachel O’Brien, their lone qualifier for the NCAA Championships last year, has transferred to Cal Poly and will begin competing there in the fall, coach Thomas Milich confirmed on Monday.
O’Brien is a butterfly specialist who finished 17th at last year’s NCAA Championships in the 200 fly with a 1:56.87; she also placed 37th in the 100 fly in 53.87. She earned a 7th place finish in the longer butterfly race at last year’s Pac-12 Championships, and would have been the conference’s number-two returning swimmer in the event next season.
Instead, she’ll head to San Luis Obispo, California to complete her one remaining season of college eligibility. Although Cal Poly’s men compete in the Pac-12, their women are a part of the rising Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) so there are no in-conference transfer rules in play. If she even comes close to best times next season in the 100 and 200 flys, both done as a sophomore in 2011, she’ll crush school records.
She’s also likely to take on serious relay duties for the Mustangs, both on medley and freestyle relays – she split as fast as a 51.2 in the 100 free at Pac 12’s last season.
Though the Cal Poly men have had some level of success at the NCAA level the past few seasons, the women didn’t have any NCAA qualifiers last season or the year before. They did, however, finish 4th at the MPSF Championships in 2012, just 6.5 points behind UC-Davis for 3rd (a DQ’ed 200 medley relay would cost them big). The addition of O’Brien’s 50+ individual points at that meet should keep them in contention for a top-3 finish, though they graduated many points from last year’s team.
This makes the second swimmer to leave the Oregon State program this summer, after Shelby Webber announced that she was transferring to Texas next season. The Beavers are coached by husband-and-wife team Larry and Mary Anne Liebowitz.